Quanera Hayes celebrates with her son, Demetrius, after finishing first in the women's 400-meter final at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials on June 20, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
If her 3-year-old son Demetrius one day wants to follow his mother into the track and field world, that will be fine with Quanera Hayes. But that decision will be his alone and not the result of any pressure from the 2020 U.S. Olympian.
“Prayerfully, he wants to run, but that’s just nothing that I’m going to push him to do,” Hayes said. “We put him in everything else other than track because I want him to grow a love for it himself and take it seriously for himself.”
The 30-year-old Hayes, who placed seventh in the 400-meter last year in Tokyo and was part of a winning relay team at the 2017 world championships, began with the sport as a middle schooler, but she wasn’t pushed into it.
“It was just something that I did for fun,” Hayes recalled. “It was never like a dream to go to the Olympics. I didn’t even know what the Olympics was, as far as like track and field. It was just something I did with my friends.
“That was the only thing I was willing to do because I don’t like contact sports.”
Having said that, Hayes, of Dillon, South Carolina, does recognize a budding athlete when she sees one.
“Oh, gosh, yes,” she said. “Literally, from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to sleep, he is literally on full throttle. And he’s super-fast. He’s learning how to get out of the blocks. He knows how to put one foot on each side, and he gets down into a set position and everything. He’s definitely got it in him.
“The way his energy is is just … so draining at times, especially on the weekends when he’s home all day. We literally go to the park every single weekend so he can run at least a little bit.”
As a professional athlete, Hayes had busy days even before Demetrius was born, so things haven’t slowed down one bit as he’s gotten older.
“I wouldn’t say it’s gotten any easier,” Hayes said. “I really just grow as he grows. I have to learn a little bit more patience each day and how I respond to certain things because he’s quite the daring little child.
“We’re trying to let him be free and independent but also learn how to be cautious at the same time. With each new phase that he goes through as he gets older, it’s always a learning experience. So, we’re not going backwards, but it’s not getting any easier.”